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Jason The Guardian

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Mariner John
November 30, 2021, 12:04pm
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For years, fans have felt increasingly shut out from what is happening to their football clubs. From the extraordinary Super League debacle to the litany of football clubs that have gone out of business in the past two decades, pressure has been mounting for a root-and-branch overhaul of the way English football functions. In recent years we have seen countless protests by fans against owners who only care about the bottom line, against unethical takeovers by dubious foreign oligarchs and regimes, and most importantly against the detrimental impact this kind of arrangement, which is primarily focused on the interests of shareholders, has on local communities. We have long needed an injection of democracy into our national game, and some serious, systemic changes.

In light of this, the government established a fan-led review, which has been running since April this year, talking to representatives from more than 130 football clubs. Fans from up and down the country have had their chance to speak up. It is a welcome attempt to redress the balance, and put the interests of ordinary football fans back at the heart of decision-making. Last week it published its long-awaited findings, which the review’s commissioner, Tracey Crouch MP, promised would establish “a long-term sustainable position for English football”. While there is clearly work to do, overall the review sets a clear path towards a better-governed game for generations to come.

The review recommends increasing fan representation on matters relating to club governance, which I welcome – but the measures could have gone further. I would like to see “full board representation”, requiring a fan on the full board of every club. This would allow a fan representative to have access to all discussions about the future of each club, giving a voice to the community in all decisions.

One of the most interesting and important of the report’s 47 recommendations is an overhaul of the so-called solidarity and parachute payments system. Clubs receive parachute payments if they drop out of the Premier League into the English Football League (EFL). Solidarity payments, meanwhile, are paid to all of the other EFL clubs, but they are significantly lower than parachute payments. As it stands, parachute payments effectively offer extra financial compensation to owners who are willing to gamble their club’s future to get into the top tier of English football – even if they are then quickly relegated – and do nothing for the majority of poor clubs that prop up the professional game. It’s almost like a form of insurance for “get rich quick” clubs, and works against sustainable investment and growth. Taken together, these payments are really nothing to do with solidarity, as they set up a perverse incentive whereby many clubs gamble to get promoted but are left in a ruinous state.

The review has confirmed that the game will finally get an independent regulator, which will oversee a new “integrity test” for owners, one that will hopefully probe both the sustainability of any ownership project and the integrity and intentions of those wanting to own clubs. I hope the regulator will also compel the Premier League and EFL to change the rules on solidarity payments, and intervene if they don’t go far enough. The FLR’s proposal is that a 10% levy will be paid by all Premier League clubs on transfers and redistributed to the lower leagues: a neat sleight of hand that would see a vital transfer of wealth to the grassroots game. The review calculated that this would have raised about £160m a year, based on transfers in the last five years.

It is worth emphasising how deep the inequality in English football runs. I was struck earlier this month by the poor timing of separate announcements from the Premier League: one about “improved solidarity payments”, and just a few hours later, news about a new deal it had signed for an additional US$2bn in revenue for US TV rights. These stories both landed as I attended Grimsby Town’s Friday night game against Southend United, which had been moved to that time slot to be on BT Sport: a move for which we received a few thousand pounds. While we appreciate these payments, you can see why they feel like tiny crumbs from the top table – over the course of a season, we probably receive something in the region of £40k in TV money. Quite a contrast with the billions floating around the top tier.

In her book Political Solidarity, the philosopher Sally Scholz argues that it is critical to support and find mutual respect across our economic, political and historical differences if society is to function for all, as well as to give people the ability to take up roles of leadership in our communities at every level. Solidarity is not just concerned with the distribution of material goods and wealth – it only really makes sense when paired with the idea of wider social justice. As Scholz puts it, this means “a willingness to share the risks that comes with social relations … to help carry each other’s burdens”.

It feels like we need more of this at the moment. While on the whole, global standards of living have increased massively in the past 100 years, relative inequality matters not just on a moral level but also because it can create political instability. We need to recalibrate the narrative and purpose of the economic system we are operating in order to make it fairer for all involved. Which is why we I believe we need both greater solidarity payments from the Premier League and a wealth tax specifically related to the government’s levelling up agenda. In the same way that some clubs benefit from the stratospheric TV revenues associated with the Premier League while others struggle, we know that many asset-rich people have increased their net wealth during the period of Covid while others have lost their livelihoods.

I have spent the past 25 years working in the technology sector as an entrepreneur, and most people I know involved in technology businesses have seen their assets increase during the pandemic. Maybe not to the degree of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has doubled since the start of the pandemic, but still – those sitting on property assets or active in the public markets have failed to show real solidarity with those out there in the streets and in homes across the UK for many of whom real wages and income have declined over recent years. How many in the top income and asset brackets are prepared to contribute to a time-bound wealth tax to support the vital “levelling up” work that should be announced by Neil O’Brien MP and his team before the end of this year?

As a society we are all in it together, whether we like it or not, and we need to stand together to ensure prosperity and progress is attainable for everyone, not just elites. True solidarity is not just about a financial gesture but about what is fair – both in football and in society at large.
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lew chaterleys lover
November 30, 2021, 1:03pm
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Is he going to say the same thing in the Guardian every week?

I appreciate his attitude but I still think he may be disappointed as there is no way clubs will stop reaching for the stars.

I have to admit I was hoping to hear more from the chairman about matters directly attributable to GTFC than trying to solve what he sees as all of footballs' ills.

I also appreciate it is unwise to make promises that cannot be met, but "working hard every day to improve the organisation" doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. Have we any more news on stadium plans, training ground plans, new investment to take on the more prominent clubs in our division?

  
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TinklerMan
November 30, 2021, 1:32pm
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Is he going to say the same thing in the Guardian every week?

I appreciate his attitude but I still think he may be disappointed as there is no way clubs will stop reaching for the stars.

I have to admit I was hoping to hear more from the chairman about matters directly attributable to GTFC than trying to solve what he sees as all of footballs' ills.

I also appreciate it is unwise to make promises that cannot be met, but "working hard every day to improve the organisation" doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. Have we any more news on stadium plans, training ground plans, new investment to take on the more prominent clubs in our division?

  


A bit harsh that
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Stuart Discotheque
November 30, 2021, 2:32pm
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Is he going to say the same thing in the Guardian every week?

I appreciate his attitude but I still think he may be disappointed as there is no way clubs will stop reaching for the stars.

I have to admit I was hoping to hear more from the chairman about matters directly attributable to GTFC than trying to solve what he sees as all of footballs' ills.

I also appreciate it is unwise to make promises that cannot be met, but "working hard every day to improve the organisation" doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. Have we any more news on stadium plans, training ground plans, new investment to take on the more prominent clubs in our division?

  


Think JS background and the context of the national league (inc financial situation considering of some of the teams in it) make the subject matter of these Guardian pieces & interviews pretty unsurprising. Football governance is a pretty hot topic and for good reason. Not too sure articles about negotiating the finer points of planning permissions of a potential new stadium / training ground with NE Lincs council would really be all that entertaining.

That being said, I've full confidence that once any decent strides are made, we will be much better informed than under JF - not to mention you have to trust JS & APs approach behind the scenes to be a fair bit more.



UTM
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aldi_01
November 30, 2021, 3:07pm

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Is he going to say the same thing in the Guardian every week?

I appreciate his attitude but I still think he may be disappointed as there is no way clubs will stop reaching for the stars.

I have to admit I was hoping to hear more from the chairman about matters directly attributable to GTFC than trying to solve what he sees as all of footballs' ills.

I also appreciate it is unwise to make promises that cannot be met, but "working hard every day to improve the organisation" doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. Have we any more news on stadium plans, training ground plans, new investment to take on the more prominent clubs in our division?

  


Surely what you read in to it is that football, and our dear old GTFC is in a flipping mess.

His articles highlight the wider issues with the game and the constant desire to alter the organisation, which nobody disagrees with is fair and just.

It’s become very clear to anyone other than those hanging out of the back of Fenty that GTFC was in a far worse state than most ever really knew. Fenty hid behind flimsy financial records but in truth they told a bleak picture of a club on life support.

Perhaps it doesn’t set the pulses racing, perhaps many a fan only truly cares about the 11 that play on a Saturday but football and GTFC are much more than that and it doesn’t take a genius to look at what clubs who’ve sailed passed us have done, and it’s much more than throwing money at some players…


'the poor and the needy are selfish and greedy'...well done Mozza
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The Old Codger
November 30, 2021, 3:14pm
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Quoted from aldi_01


Surely what you read in to it is that football, and our dear old GTFC is in a flipping mess.

His articles highlight the wider issues with the game and the constant desire to alter the organisation, which nobody disagrees with is fair and just.

It’s become very clear to anyone other than those hanging out of the back of Fenty that GTFC was in a far worse state than most ever really knew. Fenty hid behind flimsy financial records but in truth they told a bleak picture of a club on life support.

Perhaps it doesn’t set the pulses racing, perhaps many a fan only truly cares about the 11 that play on a Saturday but football and GTFC are much more than that and it doesn’t take a genius to look at what clubs who’ve sailed passed us have done, and it’s much more than throwing money at some players…


I don't think pumping out fortnightly altruism in The Guardian is necessarily going to set most fans' pulses racing, is it? Most of us are well enough informed to know that the rich clubs will continue to look after themselves first and then pay lip service to those below and, whilst it's football's attempt at 'levelling up', most know that it won't happen in a hurry if at all.

I'm happy that the owners are looking to improve the club every day - the first thing they need to create is success on the pitch as that is the best and easiest way to create revenue.
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Chrisblor
November 30, 2021, 3:15pm

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Is he going to say the same thing in the Guardian every week?

I appreciate his attitude but I still think he may be disappointed as there is no way clubs will stop reaching for the stars.

I have to admit I was hoping to hear more from the chairman about matters directly attributable to GTFC than trying to solve what he sees as all of footballs' ills.

I also appreciate it is unwise to make promises that cannot be met, but "working hard every day to improve the organisation" doesn't exactly set the pulses racing. Have we any more news on stadium plans, training ground plans, new investment to take on the more prominent clubs in our division?

  


Instead of going off on another customary unjustified whine have you considered listening to or reading any of the recent in-depth interviews he's done with Radio Humberside or the Grimsby Telegraph:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0b58m00 (24 minutes from November 19th)

https://www.grimsbytelegraph.c.....nsfer-window-6278707 (first of a two part interview published today)

The Guardian are hardly going to let him write for a national audience about replacing the PA system at Blundell Park are they?


gary jones
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Chrisblor
November 30, 2021, 3:25pm

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Also, if you're really desperate for updates on matters directly attributable to GTFC, here's the letter Debbie Cook sent to season ticket holders the other week:

Quoted Text
Dear Season Ticket Holders

Firstly, may I thank you most sincerely for your continued and incredible support for our Club; the dedication our fans have has bowled me over in my first 5 months as your Chief Executive and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of something so special. My role here doesn't feel like a job, it's much, much more, and something that I am incredibly passionate about, and which occupies my thoughts for most of the time!

I wanted to use the opportunity of sending you our Christmas Brochure to also keep you up to date with some of the things that are going on at GTFC. We will soon be communicating with you much more regularly through e-mail, having invested in new systems and processes Improved communication with all our fans is really important to us at the Club; after all, our fans are the Club.

At the beginning of December, a new Club website will be launched, and at the same time, a new Club Shop website will be launched. You will then be able to see for yourself the work that we are doing to modernise, professionalise and protect the GTFC brand. This is work which has arisen from our project to establish the GTFC Vision and Values (which some of you may have already seen in the Notts County programme, or indeed on our social media channels). Everybody at the Club is committed to living and breathing those values and we hope our fans will embrace them too.

We continue in our commitment to provide a new PA system and other improvements at Blundell Park to enhance your match-day experience. We have struggled to obtain quotations for the PA system and the costs have proven much more expensive than originally anticipated, but it's very much high on our list. Another thing that is high on our 'to do' list is to talk to our disabled supporters about their facilities and how they could potentially be improved.

Our commitment to becoming a B Corp organisation continues, as does our commitment to exploring a new Training Ground. We also need to grow our commercial activity, seeking to engage new companies who want to work with us and support us in this new era.

In my first 5 months as Chief Executive I've had the pleasure of meeting many of you, our loyal fans. Thank you so much for the support you have given me personally so far. I know how much this Club means to its fans and I take the responsibility of the role incredibly seriously I am really excited about the power of our work both on and off the pitch in helping to inspire and transform our community.

Thank you for your continued support, and as we fast-approach the festive season may I send my best wishes to you and your loved ones.

UTM
Debbie


Happy now?


gary jones
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DB
November 30, 2021, 4:54pm
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Quoted from Chrisblor
Also, if you're really desperate for updates on matters directly attributable to GTFC, here's the letter Debbie Cook sent to season ticket holders the other week:



Happy now?


It would have been nice if you or other season ticket holders could have shared this when it came.

We're all town.



You can please some of the forumites some of the time but not all the forumites all of the time
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DB
November 30, 2021, 4:57pm
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Quoted from Chrisblor
Also, if you're really desperate for updates on matters directly attributable to GTFC, here's the letter Debbie Cook sent to season ticket holders the other week:Quoted Text
Dear Season Ticket Holders

Firstly, may I thank you most sincerely for your continued and incredible support for our Club; the dedication our fans have has bowled me over in my first 5 months as your Chief Executive and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of something so special. My role here doesn't feel like a job, it's much, much more, and something that I am incredibly passionate about, and which occupies my thoughts for most of the time!

I wanted to use the opportunity of sending you our Christmas Brochure to also keep you up to date with some of the things that are going on at GTFC. We will soon be communicating with you much more regularly through e-mail, having invested in new systems and processes Improved communication with all our fans is really important to us at the Club; after all, our fans are the Club.

At the beginning of December, a new Club website will be launched, and at the same time, a new Club Shop website will be launched. You will then be able to see for yourself the work that we are doing to modernise, professionalise and protect the GTFC brand. This is work which has arisen from our project to establish the GTFC Vision and Values (which some of you may have already seen in the Notts County programme, or indeed on our social media channels). Everybody at the Club is committed to living and breathing those values and we hope our fans will embrace them too.

We continue in our commitment to provide a new PA system and other improvements at Blundell Park to enhance your match-day experience. We have struggled to obtain quotations for the PA system and the costs have proven much more expensive than originally anticipated, but it's very much high on our list. Another thing that is high on our 'to do' list is to talk to our disabled supporters about their facilities and how they could potentially be improved.

Our commitment to becoming a B Corp organisation continues, as does our commitment to exploring a new Training Ground. We also need to grow our commercial activity, seeking to engage new companies who want to work with us and support us in this new era.

In my first 5 months as Chief Executive I've had the pleasure of meeting many of you, our loyal fans. Thank you so much for the support you have given me personally so far. I know how much this Club means to its fans and I take the responsibility of the role incredibly seriously I am really excited about the power of our work both on and off the pitch in helping to inspire and transform our community.

Thank you for your continued support, and as we fast-approach the festive season may I send my best wishes to you and your loved ones.

UTM
Debbie




Happy now?


It would have been nice if you could have shared this earlier,

We're all Town aren't we.



You can please some of the forumites some of the time but not all the forumites all of the time
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